This time of year represents many things for many people; happiness, connection, religion, gratitude, love, and for some, loneliness and heartache. No matter the perception you hold specific to major world religion holidays, some degree of emotional experience is triggered when we observe others, experience interpersonal interaction, and take part in or avoid the various traditions. Memories hold a strong sense of power for humans. For many, the nostalgia of what Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, etc. represent, bring smiles to our faces, as we remember and share childhood experiences, and try to incorporate them into our present-day lives, at least in some capacity. Whether, family gatherings, special meals, that perfect toy you just had to have (until the next big thing came out), or simply having time off from the daily routine of work, a warm, secure feeling comes over us.
What's important to remember, is that this time of year is not always representative of happiness a cheer for all people. For some of you, the holiday season may remind you of how much you missed out, compared to others. Or, you may recall the pain of losing a loved one at the worst possible time. Others, still, may associate this season solely with the increased crowds, chaos, and rapaciousness of the human race. Afterall, we have all but forsaken the holiday to recognize that for which we are grateful, in order to save $20 at midnight.
For me, this season represents a time of reflection, gratitude, and love. Like any family, I experience my fair share of annoyance, frustration, and impatience when gathering with family and friends who may or may not be on their best behavior. However, when I take a breath and step back for a moment, I gain a sense of what is most important to me - secure and unconditional connection. Even if it's once a year, I reach out to those who hold a special place in my heart, and enjoy hearing from the family and friends who are thinking of me.
Despite your specific ideology or religious preference, remember that not everyone shares identical beliefs as you. Christians can sit with Muslims, Jews, Pagans, Buddhists, Hindu, and Atheists with peace, understanding, and unconditional compassion for their fellow man or woman. I apologize for leaving anyone out. We all have things to learn and appreciate from each other. We all have things in common, which we can share and appreciate. We all have differences that make us unique, interesting, and sometimes challenging. We are all human. Remember this. If nothing else this holiday season, remember that your experience is yours. No one can or will take that from you. Also remember that others' experiences belong to them, and you do not have permission to take them or disregard them. Reach out to those who may need an extra touch, word of encouragement, or maybe just an attuned ear, and remember to live in the present. We cannot recreate the exact same experience as last year, nor should we. Think of how much we miss in what is available right now, if we ignore it for the sake of last year or next year. Old traditions are comforting and great, and so are new ones.
Take care of yourselves, and Happy Holidays!